In 2020 Jack Steele went from being a tagger to becoming one of the most versatile and complete midfielders in the AFL. With longer quarters, can we see his scoring go up yet another gear?
Name: Jack Steele
Club: St Kilda Saints
2020 Highest Score:
111 Vs Gold Coast (AFLFantasy)
167 Vs Brisbane (SuperCoach)
Career Highest Score:
145 Vs North Melbourne | AFLFantasy (2018)
167 Vs Brisbane | SuperCoach (2020)
90.9 (AFLFantasy) | 113.6 (Adjusted Average)
SuperCoach Price: $658,000
AFLFantasy Price: $867,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $839,700
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Everything changed for St Kilda and Jack Steele for 2020 and it was for the better. Under new coach Brett Ratten, Steele went from a defensive midfielder to become a ball hunting midfielder.
The Saints saw an immediate reward with the club making finals for the first time since 2011. From a personal level, it was a career season for Jack. He ranked: 4th across the AFL for tackles, 6th for contested possessions, 6th for stoppage clearances, 8th for total clearances, 14th for effective disposals & 18th for goal assists.
Breaking those stats down into his AFLFantasy season he returned 5 tons, 6 additional scores over 90 and just the one score below 70. Remembering that ’80 was the new 100′ that’s an incredibly prolific scoring season factoring in the shorter quarters. He ended the season ranked fifth for total scoring and 10th by averages. His 2020 seasonal average of 90.9 is an adjusted average equivalent of 113.
In SuperCoach he finished the season ranked third for averages with Lachie Neale and Max Gawn higher than Steele. From a total points perspective, he ranked second with only Neale scoring more in 2020.
From his 17 games last year he scored 13 tons, 10 of them were above 120, and a crazy 6 were above 135. Those are genuine captaincy numbers almost every single week. Besides his frequency of tons, his scoring floor is just as strong. With his lowest score of 86 being just one of 4 scorers below 100 all season.
When a player has such a large breakout season, some fantasy coaches could be hesitant to select him in 2021. However, for multiple years at St Kilda, he’s been a reliable performer even in a tagging role. Since transitioning to St Kilda, he’s always averaged 94 & 95 before his breakout season. So worse case scenario I can’t see his average falling below this.Embed from Getty Images
Was it just a perfect storm for Jack Steele? Or has he moved into an elite performing midfielder for us? Some amongst the fantasy community would suggest the reason for the boost was the shorter quarters. However, the time on ground data would indicate that not to be true. In 2020 he had a TOG of 85%, but the year prior it was 84%.
The reason plain and simple for the scoring increase was the freedom of role offered to him. No longer was his sole focus to limit the impact of his opponent. Rather it was to maintain doing that AND to win the ball himself.
In the offseason, the St Kilda midfield had some significant additions. Adelaide’s 2019 best and fairest winner Brad Crouch has joined the club as a free agent. As a pure midfielder, he’ll take his share of midfield rotations. In 2019 when he played full games, he ranked 8th in the league for total disposals. Throw in former Tiger Jack Higgins, a potentially fit Dan Hannebery, and it’s far from a thin midfield.
I don’t think these players will impact the scoring opportunities of Steele. Rather it’s the next layer of Saints that could have some limited time.
Thankfully, Steele isn’t a one dimensional scorer. A look back across his scoring columns is a great visual that he doesn’t require one specific statistical line to succeed to score well.
It isn’t easy to go back to back with a 120 SuperCoach season and a 110 in AFLFantasy. It’s one of the primary reasons I’m unlikely to start Steele in any format. Another reason for passing on him is for coaches looking to chase starting squad value with underpriced premiums.
I think Jack will deliver another strong season, and while I don’t project him to be inside the top 5 scoring midfielders in 2021, I do have him hovering around the top 10.
After the season Jack Steele delivered, he deserves to be selected as an M1 across all game scoring formats. With a high premium value on the top tier of rucks, forwards and defenders, I believe we’ll see the lowest numbers of midfielders drafted in the first round.
Because of that, I believe Steele is a second round pick, and in some leagues might even drift to the third round should coaches choose to pick the bigger ‘name’ players.
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